Art In Video Games: The Macabre and Unusual Collections of Chief Irons in Resident Evil 2 Remake

Friday 1 March 2019

Anyone familiar with the original Resident Evil 2, no doubt remembers the decoration in the office of Brian Irons, police chief of Raccoon City and amateur taxidermist: stuffed animals, hunting trophies and the disemboweled corpse of the Mayor's daughter lying on his desk. In the recent remake of the game, the Chief's office has undergone a huge makeover, following the further exploration of his character and the more detailed presentation of his morbid hobby.

Claire arrives at the Chief's office while looking for Sherry whom he practically kidnapped a bit earlier in front of her eyes. The office is located in an isolated section of the Police Department, accessible at first only via a private elevator at the parking lot. The first thing that Claire sees upon entering the office is the Chief's desk with a stuffed raccoon standing on it.

Taking a tour around the office, we can see that Chief Irons has assembled quite a collection of stuffed animals. Since taxidermy is his hobby, we can presume that at least the majority of his "treasures" are his own creations.

On the one side of the desk, there is a chest with an armadillo (!), a crocodile head and an eagle. The crocodile head serves as an imaginative (?) wine case.

Above this installation, hang three hunting trophies - rather basic, compared to the general decoration of the room.

The Chief also has a stuffed deer near the entrance. It is interesting that he does not only have animal trophy heads, but also whole animals.

Above the deer, hanging from the ceiling and in a flying position, we can see a bird that looks like a turkey alongside a giant bat - a nod to the giant bat of Resident Evil Zero.

The Chief's collection also includes a wolf which stands opposite the entrance, at the other side of the room.

There are two antelope heads nearby, with a bison head above them.

The Chief's collection also features a small stuffed fox and a thorn-back tortoise.

In the corridor outside, there is a huge stuffed tiger in attack position.

The corridor leads to a back room which hosts more of his prized treasures. The most imposing one is a stuffed giant bear which looks quite threatening.

Chief Irons even has a stuffed dodo - a bird that does not exist anymore, yet he managed to find, capture and stuff one for his collection. It can be seen in the back room, standing next to an elaborately decorated tribal vase.

There is also a stuffed owl guarding the relief which holds the office key.

Apart from his stuffed animals and trophy heads, Chief Irons also owns several works of art, being the avid collector that he is. The building of the Raccoon Police Department used to be a museum, so it is no wonder the corrupted Chief ended up with such a rich collection. In the office, we can see an ebony male statue and the portrait of a girl holding flowers. This painting is "The Flower Girl" by Charles Cromwell Ingham (1846), and we can also see it in the Chief's taxidermy lab at the Orphanage.

At the entrance of the back room, there is yet one more painting, "The Toilette of Venus" by François Boucher (1751). Same with the "Flower Girl", this also can be seen at the lab.

Near the office entrance, on the left side there is "Virgin and Child with Four Angels" by Gerard David (c. 1510), yet one more piece of art that we can also see at the Orphanage. In the middle, there is "Midnight On Mount Lafayette, New Hampshire" by William Trost Richards (1873). On the right, we can see "The Titan's Goblet" by Thomas Cole (1833).

Additionally the Chief has miniature replicas of Leonardo Da Vinci's flying machines, and an old sailboat model.

He also owns a small collection of porcelain plates, undoubtedly very rare and expensive.

There are shelves in the back room hosting several items from ancient civilizations, like Egyptian and Mayan statuettes and an ancient Greek vase.

And more shelves featuring African masks and a variety of ceremonial vessels and jars.

The Chief has a wall in his office dedicated to photos and portraits, including Lorenzo di Credi's "Portrait of a Young Woman" (c. 1490) on the far left and a photo of Jean Reno.

The inclusion of Jean Reno in the game is an easter egg, as the French actor had been featured in an older title by Capcom, Onimusha 3: Demon Siege. Additionally, one of his major roles was that of Léon, a hitman (Léon: The Professional by Luc Besson, 1994), who unexpectedly became the protector of a young girl called Mathilda. Claire's co-protagonist, Leon and his handgun, Matilda, pay tribute to Jean Reno's film character and his companion. The photo of Jean Reno can also be seen at the Chief's private lab.

Hanging on another wall, there is the painting "Child Holding a Doll" by John Downman (1780).

On the bookcase with the stuffed fox and the tortoise, there is the "Portrait Of The Painter" by John La Farge (1859), right above the fox.

Above the Chief's framed badge, we can see Gustave Courbet's "Woman In A Riding Habit" (1856). Next to it, there is a photo which shows two young men sitting in a rather intimate position.

This is a real-life photo and according to Wikimedia, it shows a "Creole male couple, Dagguerotype from the 1840s, New Orleans, USA." Not sure what exactly the Chief wants to imply, but I guess we are free to draw our own conclusions.

Part of the Chief's collection of stuffed animals, photographs and art can be also seen in rooms of the Orphanage and in the private lab where he exercised his taxidermy skills.

We can see the "Study Head of a Woman" by Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1780) next to a copy of "The Toilette of Venus".

He has three paintings that show dead animals. One of them is "Still Life with Hunting Trophies" by Jan Weenix (c. 1685).

The other is "Still Life With Fruit, Dead Game and a Parrot Mural, attributed to Jan Fyt (c. 1650).

The third is "Still Life of Dead Birds and a Hare on a Table" by Adriaen Van Utrecht (1647).

All three paintings are similar and they were created around the same period of time. Apparently the themes of still life with dead animals had become a trend back then, sometimes aiming at satisfying the morbid curiosity of the audience and other times being used as social or political allegories. Since Chief Irons exercised taxidermy as a hobby, such themes appealed to him and he obviously had the paintings hanging in his private room so they they would offer him inspiration.

There is also a painting depicting dying flowers, that can be spotted a few times in both the office and the lab.

Two greco-roman busts decorate the corridor that leads to the taxidermy lab.

There are a few stuffed animals in the lab that are identical to the ones at the office - like the raccoon, the fox, the armadillo, the owl - as well as similar African masks and tribal vessels. The Chief also has an impressive collection of stuffed butterflies and bugs.

In the Remake, the dead body of the Mayor's daughter can be seen in the taxidermy lab and not at the office. The Chief had her dressed in the style of an ancient statue and was in the process of turning her into yet one more trophy for his collection when Sherry discovered his lair in an attempt to escape from him.

When Claire arrives at the Orphanage to rescue Sherry she discovers that the Chief was also preparing yet one more bat for stuffing.

Next to it, we can see a vintage gramophone, an item that is always a favourite inclusion not only in the Resident Evil series, but in other games as well.

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